The Israeli and Moroccan defense ministers meet in a historic visit
Rabat – The Israeli Defense Minister met his Moroccan counterpart on Wednesday in Rabat as part of a historic visit to formalize security cooperation between the two countries.
Israel and Morocco established formal relations last year as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by the United States.
Benny Gantz’s trip is the first official visit by an Israeli defense minister to an Arab country that has established open relations, a trip aimed at further strengthening defense ties between the two countries.
Gantz met with Moroccan Defense Minister Abdellatif Lodi, and the two are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding that lays the foundation for future security cooperation and arms sales.
Before his meeting with Loudiyi, Gantz paid his respects at the tomb of Mehmed V, the king’s ruling grandfather.
Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel in 2020 as part of diplomatic agreements brokered by the Trump administration known as the Ibrahim Accords.
Israel and Morocco enjoyed low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco cut them off after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000. Despite this, the two countries maintained informal relations. Nearly half a million Israelis claim Moroccan heritage – more than 200,000 immigrated to Israel after the state was established in 1948 – and thousands visit the country each year.
Morocco is still home to a small Jewish community, and in Rabat there is one synagogue remaining.
In exchange for Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel, the Trump administration promised in December 2020 to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed region in North Africa. The declaration unsettled decades of US policy and the international consensus that the status of Western Sahara should be settled by referendum at the United Nations.
Since then, the Biden administration has cautiously backed away from this recognition.
The Abraham Accords broke the old consensus among Arab states that normalization with Israel is only part of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because of this, the Palestinians view the agreements as a betrayal that has eroded their influence with Israel.
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